Volume 18 - Issue 2

Poems for people in distress: The Apocalypse of John and the contemplative life

By R. Paul Stevens

The Apocalypse of John (Revelation) ushers us into a world of dragons, beasts, angels, cosmic catastrophies and martyrs chanting hymns. We are swept from one riveting vision to the next as we are transported from heaven to earth and back again, in an upstairs-downstairs drama. Bowls of judgment are poured out on the earth while cringing multitudes call on hills to cover them from the wrath of the Lamb. There is a final battle, a wonderful wedding supper, and an exquisite garden city. It is not hard to see why The Apocalypse and contemplation are seldom joined in Christian spirituality.

Contemplation denotes the kind of prayer in which the mind ‘does not function discursively but is arrested in a simple attention and one-pointedness’.1 The goal of such contemplation, as expounded by such classical authors as John Cassian, St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila and St Francis of Sales, is union with God, sometimes described as a spiritual marriage. While there is no general agreement on whether the senses and rational thought may be involved in the contemplative experience, it is agreed that contemplation normally concerns dwelling in the presence of God. But can we experience God first-hand while being inundated with visions of complex creatures, cosmic catastrophes, stylized presentations of Jesus that defy literal interpretation (Rev. 1:12–18), and ghastly, though victorious, battles against a demonized culture and world system? Certainly not, if contemplation is defined as it is by John of the Cross as a way of total negation through which one transcends objects of attention in a kind of living death to this finite realm of existence.2‘The poor man’, says John of the Cross, ‘who is naked of desires and whims will be clothed by God with his purity, satisfaction, and will’ (Maxim 91).

Contemplation normally requires withdrawal from culture and politics, dehabituation from the media, including Christian media. Contemplation makes us think of stillness; apocalypse makes us think of earth-shattering thunder and blinding light. Contemplation is closet-work; apocalypse is cosmos-work. Contemplation is located in the desert, while apocalypse pushes our nose in the earthiness of the marketplace, and compels us to explore the spirituality of buying and selling (13:17), casting votes (13:7) and turning on the television (13:15). So The Apocalypse of John and contemplation seem to be an incompatible couple.

The marriage of this odd couple is complicated by the fact that apocalypse is a lost literary genre to the modern western Christian. Apocalypse was to the first century what science fiction is to the twentieth. Imagine trying to explain science fiction to a first-century tentmaker in Ephesus, or apocalypse to a cab-driver in Boston or Toronto. Comparisons may, however, be made. The Revelation of John can be compared with a dissolve-fade slide show (the Lion dissolves into a Lamb standing as though slain), a drama (organized in dramatic form with overlapping sequences of seven seals, trumpets and bowls, with the major pastoral messages offered at the moments of maximum dramatic intensity) or a symphony (it has more songs than all the rest of the NT. But none of these comparisons does justice to the unique form of literature that flourished between 200 bc and ad 100. While there is no general agreement on the exact nature of an apocalypse,3 the Apocalypse Group of the Society of Biblical Literature crafted a useful definition: ‘ “Apocalypse” is a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatalogical salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural, world.’4 John is unquestionably an apocalyptist. But is he a contemplative?

The desert experiences of John

Each time John is ‘in the Spirit’ he is transported to a location conducive to a direct awareness of God: on Patmos (1:9)—in exile waiting, like Ezekiel, for God to act; in heaven (4:2)—in a transcendent reality, like Paul in the third heaven; in the desert (17:3)—stripped of the stimulation of culture, like John the Baptist; and on a mountain great and high (21:10)—in a place of revelation like Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. John received the vision while in exile for Jesus on the island of Patmos, in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (1:9–10). He was exactly where the contemplative way places a person: in the desert, dehabituated from Christian service, alone with God in the Spirit and experiencing the kairos time of Christian sabbath.

While ‘desert’ has only a secondary place in The Apocalypse, it is presented with a unique twist. In chapter 12 the radiant woman gives birth to the Christ-child, and according to one interpretation, the woman, who represents the believing messianic community (which now includes John’s readers), is whisked off to the desert to be protected from the dragon’s onslaught for a period of distress (12:6). Mounce shows that John’s readers would have read the word ‘desert’ not as a demon-infested wasteland but as a place of spiritual refuge.5 Kiddle6 argues that the desert experience of the Christ-bearing community describes a state of spiritual detachment from normal civilized life. Either way, John is encouraging his readers with the vision that God would meet them protectively where they were. The desert is the experience of ordinary believers in the thick of life in a pagan empire. This is especially apparent in chapter 17 where the Spirit opens his eyes to the great harlot cum Babylon, who represents the reality of the surrounding pagan culture, social, intellectual, commercial and intellectual,7 all articulated by the beast and the dragon. John views the world system as colonized by Satan and therefore his desert experiences direct his attention (and ours) to the spiritual realities of life in the world.

John presents a thoroughly ‘lay’ spirituality, intended for ordinary Christians compelled to worship Caesar in Pergamum8 and Christian bronze-workers in Thyatira struggling with the orgies and idol feasts of the pagan guilds to which they were forced to belong (3:20). Lay spirituality must deal not only with the ecclesiastical life (Rev. 2–3) but with power, politics, economics, marketing, and social responsibilities in secular or religious society. This John does. The stillness he seeks is not quietude but the triumphant voice of God spoken by God himself in Psalm 46:10 in the context of our conflict-ridden life in this world. God commands all the powers of evil: ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. In this case, desert-stillness and contemplative-stillness are discovered right in the centre of life rather than at its circumference.

John accomplishes this by pulling back the curtain of ‘normal’ perception to let us see a transcendent reality that is actually present in our everyday existence, to see through the eye, as Blake proposed, not merely with it. The Lamb has triumphed even though the harlot appears to reign supreme. Heaven, for John, is not up there, or later, but bursting into the here and now. He shows us how the world looks to a person in the Spirit. Its ‘otherworldly’ atmosphere is precisely what makes it so relevant when the church is facing persecution from a hostile culture or is being seduced by a friendly culture. It tells us that behind either hostility or seduction is a sinister personage called the beast that is really Satan’s puppet. Behind that is the plan and purpose of God, who is already overruling (13:7; 17:17) and will eventually be seen to rule everything (19:1).

Revelation is much more than a book of predictions. Rather than tell us what will take place, it gets right inside history to see what H.H. Rowley described as a ‘unique divine initiative at the end of history … when God would act in a way as solely his own as his act of creation had been’.9 The world, according to John the apocalyptist, is both more tragic and more hopeful than is immediately apparent. ‘Apocalyptic’, James Moffatt concludes, ‘always spread its gorgeous pinions in the dusk of the national fortunes, but it strained to the near dawn of relief.’10 Without this contemplative perspective, believers in the seven churches of Asia would be drowning in a sea of godless political authority, diabolical supernaturalism, debased mysticism and paganized culture. But how will throwing poems to such drowning people save them? What has the exotic imagery of The Apocalypse to do with the contemplative hunger to know God directly and personally?

The convergence of apocalyptic and contemplation

A justifiable and useful distinction can be made between meditation and contemplation: meditation is the act of turning our attention from the things of the world to the things of God, but contemplation involves turning our attention from the things of God to attend to God himself. It is this writer’s conviction that the apocalyptic form of Revelation is a vital path for first-and twentieth-century Christians to attend to God himself.

First, both Revelation and contemplation are concerned to cultivate direct experience of God and not merely to talk about God. This is the highest ministry of words. Christians frequently undervalue words, considering words as mere representations, bits of information that can be processed and digitized in order to reduce the knowledge of God to doctrine over which we have rational control. But the poet and the apocalyptist use words and word-pictures to empower us to experience the God whose presence cannot be controlled. They view each word as a logos, a literary creation that brings into being, albeit in a limited way, the reality it signifies. Robert Siegel, a poet-novelist, agrees with Tolkien’s line: ‘We make by the same law by which we’re made.’11

Revelation was intended to be read aloud (1:3) and inwardly digested through listening with the heart,12 not to be studied and analysed. It has what Swete calls an auditory logic13 through which John invites his reader-hearers to share his contemplation through their own heart responsiveness: ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). Paul Barnett shows that, along with many other NT books, Revelation was written to be read aloud. It is fundamentally aural and dramatic in character. Speaking to this, one scholar observed that ‘a written text was essentially a transcription which, like modern musical notation, became an intelligible message only when it was performed orally to others or to oneself’.14When read aloud, Revelation would have the effect of a symphony performed, which is real when heard rather than seen.

Revelation is intended to foster first-hand experience of God. John accomplishes this not by describing the spiritual life but by evoking it through visions. He empowers us to attend to God by envisioning a God who attends to us: God keeps a half-hour silence in heaven to receive the prayers of the saints (8:1–4). As a further link with the focus of contemplation on union with God, John envisions the consummation of the spiritual life and human history as a marriage (19:7–9; 21:2), a marriage so glorious that all direct experiences of God in this life are mere betrothal exchanges and assurances. Both The Apocalypse and contemplation converge on the supremacy of knowing God over merely knowing about him.

Second, both The Apocalypse of John and the act of contemplation call for a life of radical discipleship. One either worships Jesus by laying down one’s life, or one destroys oneself by worshipping the beast. So while John transmits the heavenly call to ‘come out of [Babylon], my people, so that you will not share in her sins’ (18:4), these people must be rescued while in Babylon. For until they are martyred, there is nowhere else they can serve God. John invites his friends to find God in the centre of life, not in its circumference. This is precisely one of the distinguishing marks of a Christian apocalypse. As Mounce says, ‘Revelation differs from standard apocalyptic in its view of history.… For the apocalyptists the present age is evil and without meaning. It is only a passing interlude on the way to that all-important final period preceding the end. In contrast, the book of Revelation takes as its starting point the redemptive activity of God in history’.15

Neither contemplation nor The Apocalypse of John makes room for nominal Christianity. Both presuppose that those who meet God directly will become God-intoxicated persons. Revelation has more colour than any other book of the NT—jasper, carnelian, emerald, sapphire—but discipleship is presented in stark black and white. Eugene Peterson says, ‘Apocalypse is arson—it secretly sets a fire in the imagination that boils the fat out of an obese culture-religion and renders a clear gospel love, a pure gospel hope, a purged gospel faith.’16

Third, both the Apocalypse of John and contemplation move us beyond normal rational understanding. In a careful article on ‘contemplation’, Neville Ward notes that meditation on the truth of Christ has an important role to play in keeping contemplation from drifting into non-Christian experience.17 It is important to note that the appeal of Revelation is neither mindless nor careless about truth. For example, John has deliberately crafted his message around the exodus symbols and liberation theme18 to impress us with the truth that God has chosen to side with a people that are suffering oppression and seduction. Seduced people are persecuted people and John knows they will need an empowering vision of our all-powerful God (pantokrater) and the coming kingdom to be more than survivors. Revelation is a pastoral letter written to believers who need to understand that God is embracing their present and personal history triumphantly. As Eugene Boring suggests, ‘Revelation is the prophetic/pastoral response to two questions, which are the same question: the question of God (“Who, if anyone, rules this world?”) and the question of history (“What, if any, is the meaning of the tragic events which comprise our history?”)’.19 Using a number of existing traditional elements, both canonical and non-canonical, John has crafted a document that functioned ‘as a kind of pictorial narrative theodicy which acknowledged the legitimacy of the question … “If there is a good God who is in control of things, why doesn’t he do something about present evil?” The apocalyptists’ response: “He will, for history is a unified story which is not over yet.” ’20 John does this not by teaching and instructing, but by envisioning and empowering. But there is more to The Apocalypse than a guided visual meditation on the truth of God and his coming kingdom in Jesus.

Contemplation involves the hunger to move beyond the mere progressing of ideas and words used in a logical pattern to the experiences of attending to God himself. Revelation accomplishes this partly by foiling our attempts to understand as mere doctrine the second coming of Christ and the realities associated with it. Sometimes Revelation challenges and offends our rationality. For example, among the disturbing features of this book are the following: the overlapping sequences of judgments (chs 6–19) defy consistent interpretation as a series of 21 events in linear time; the book successfully eludes every attempt to be mined as a book of predictions; as in the book of Job, Satan has access to heaven (12:7); the earthly career of Jesus appears to be completely discounted (12:5); it is uncertain when, in the scheme of things, Jesus comes, as he always seems to be ‘coming’ (11:15; 19:7); when Jesus does come more definitively, he presides at a funeral wake (19:11–21); the only Christians on earth are martyrs; Satan’s work is far from over, even though Jesus has already accomplished his saving work; our final destiny is not in heaven but in a new heaven and a new earth; the new heaven and new earth appear to be incomplete, with work, healing and human creativity still continuing (21:24; 22:2). All of this is upsetting to the exegete and theologian but thrilling to the contemplative. Revelation is not irrational but supra-rational; it dethrones but does not destroy reason and therefore satisfies the spiritual hunger to move beyond mind-control to the simple awareness of God as King.

The apocalyptic contemplative

Having explored the convergence of The Apocalypse of John and the contemplative experience, we can anticipate some of the fruits of this unlikely marriage.

First, we will pray imaginatively. Revelation is to the second coming of Jesus what the Ignatian exercises are to the first coming of Jesus: it involves an imaginative presentation of the affective and spiritual meaning of the coming of Jesus in a way designed to evoke a deep and personal encounter with the Lord himself. This cannot be done without imagination. Indeed, Cheryl Forbes says ‘we cannot have faith (belief in what is unseen) unless we have imagination; imagination is the vehicle through which faith is expressed’.21 Our prayers are often fitful and half-hearted because we cannot ‘see’ the One to whom we pray, and we cannot envision what we are praying about.

Since the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution and the advent of high-tech society, our lives have been de-imaged and stripped of imagination. But imagination relates to our essential dignity as made in the ‘image’ of God (Gn. 1:27), a visual and social metaphor of God himself. Human beings are God’s imagination incarnated, icons of God, just as Christ was his word incarnated. God expressed his glory in creation not primarily through propositions but persons with imaginations. Mystery can be understood only through imagination. Jesus, who is God’s perfect image, used metaphors and images to express the deepest truths about God, himself and the kingdom.

Fiorenza suggests that ‘the strength of Revelation’s language and images lies not in the theological argumentation or historical information but in their evocative power inviting imaginative participation’.22 With marvellous reserve John describes the throne of God and the effects of God’s presence without actually describing the indescribable, thereby enlarging our faith without seducing us into idolatry (4:1–5). ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (22:20) is the epicentre of prayer in this book, but the prayer is evoked not by persuasion or instruction but by an imaginative presentation of all the realities associated with the second coming of Jesus. James Moffatt describes John’s visions as ‘poetic coefficients rather than logical definitions of the author’s faith’.23Eugene Peterson develops the same idea: ‘Revelation is, in large part, a provisioning of the imagination to take seriously the dangers at the same time it receives exuberantly the securities, and so stand in the midst of and against evil’.24 The repeated exhortation, ‘He who has an ear, hear’, is a call to converse with God imaginatively.

Second, we will live the metaphors and symbols of the Christian life. The word ‘symbol’ derives from a Greek word that means ‘to draw together’. In contrast, the word ‘diabolical’ suggests ‘to tear apart’. By using symbols, John intends to get his readers connected with another level of understanding and meaning: the spiritual and the divine. He is cultivating kingdom-consciousness, another world view that would empower us to live triumphantly in this world even when we appear to be losing battles. John does this through symbols. The Lamb, dragon, harlot, Babylon, pregnant woman, witness and martyr are like the symbolic language of Orthodox icons. Speaking of the symbolism of the icons, Baggley says, ‘The icons are not simply illustrations of Biblical themes or stories; rather they are an embodiment of a long tradition of meditation on these themes and incidents and their significance for man’s soul … So we who approach icons must be aware of the variety of levels of truth and significance which have been brought together in any one iconographic theme or individual icon.’25 Similarly, John’s Apocalpyse is the fruit of inspired meditation on hundreds of symbolic OT ideas, words, places and people in the light of Christ’s first and second comings, though without a single quotation. Swete suggests that Revelation is a ‘Christian rereading of the whole Jewish heritage’.26 But John’s interest in a metaphorical interpretation of the OT is pastoral, not merely intellectual.

This pastoral interest is especially apparent in his choice of the central metaphor of the spiritual life in Revelation: the martyr. In John’s 22 chapters we do not meet a single living Christian left on earth; all the Christians one meets, in vision after vision, are martyrs. The Greek word ‘witness’ (martyr) is invested with its second meaning: the Christian is simply one who loses his life in order to find another life in Jesus. It is irrelevant whether one does this on the instalment plan, stage by stage, or in one extravagant act. The challenge of living this metaphor is simply this: either overcome with Jesus, or be overcome by the red dragon, beast, harlot and Babylon. Overcomers are not super-saints but mere Christians.27 Both apocalyptic and contemplation dissolve nominalism in the furnace of transformation. But how can one live the martyr metaphor?

A Celtic text, an Irish homily of the seventh century, takes up the idea that martyrdom was the normal spiritual outlook of the early Christians and expresses some of the options in a society less hostile though more seductive: red martyrdom consists in death for Jesus’ sake. Green martyrdom consists of fasting and labour through which the believer flees from his evil desires and lives a life of repentance. White martyrdom consists of abandoning everything one loves for the sake of God.28 Eugene Peterson shows that by cultivating the praying imagination, John helps us see enough to live the martyr metaphor, whether red, green or white: ‘The contribution of the Revelation to the work of witness is not instruction, telling us how to make a coherent apology of the faith, but imagination, strengthening the spirit with images that keep us “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Instruction in witness is important, but courage is critical, for it takes place in the pitched battle.’29

Third, we will worship God in the complexity of life in the world. Martyr-candidates are invited to look into heaven (4:1) and to join in concentric circles of heavenly creatures enthralled with the glory of God. Before one encounters eschatological drama, one is invited to worship the God who is both creator and redeemer.30 In the last two chapters, when Christ makes all things new, John envisions an endless environment of worship in which the greatest gift is to see God’s face (22:4). God is beautiful, so worship is the dominating atmosphere of Revelation. Every chapter directs us Godward instead of towards the pretentious and false worship of the emperor.31 John’s business as a pastor is to keep his people dealing with God and worship does this better than anything.

Indeed, in this book everyone worships. Unless we worship God we shall inevitably worship the evil trinity: the beast, the harlot and the false prophet, joining those who choose to be sent to hell singing pseudo-hymns: ‘Who is like the beast?’ According to John it is impossible not to worship. Behind this choice, for John’s parishioners, stood the imperial cult which had worship centres located in each of the seven cities/towns in Asia where churches had been planted.32 Whether to worship Christ or Caesar amounts to choosing between the Lamb or the harlot.

Faced with the temptations of idolatry and apostasy, we must worship God (22:9). The best time and place to do this is in the thick of life, not in our leisure-time. Eugene Peterson sums up the crucial role of worship to the challenges of everyday life in these words: ‘Failure in worship consigns us to a life of spasms and jerks, at the mercy of every advertisement, every seduction, every siren. Without worship we live manipulated and manipulating lives. We move in either frightened panic or deluded lethargy as we are, in turn, alarmed by spectres and soothed by placebos.’33

Finally, we will live with kingdom consciousness. Speaking for a generation without hope, Lesslie Newbigin says: ‘We are without conviction about any worthwhile end to which the travail of history might lead.… The gospel is vastly more than an offer to men who care to accept it of a meaning for their personal lives. It is the declaration of God’s cosmic purpose by which the whole public history of mankind is sustained and overruled, and by which men without exception will be judged.’34 Unfortunately, evidences of hopelessness are not restricted to those without faith in Jesus. Among Christians one finds both short-and long-range despair about the world (with a prayer for a speedy evacuation) as well as pathetic need to squeeze everything one can get out of this life (as if there were no other life and no other world). John invites a different approach.

In Revelation we are invited to live with an open heaven. If we ‘see’ heaven, we will see earth the way it really is. Kingdom-consciousness is another way of speaking of this: living hopefully within the tension of the ‘here’ and ‘not-yet-but-coming’ kingdom of Jesus. This heavenly-mindedness is conspicuously lacking in Western Christians today. Muggeridge speaks prophetically in words which fall on largely deafened ears: ‘The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realize, is to feel ourselves to be at home here on earth.’35 C.S. Lewis made a similar judgment: ‘The Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most about the next.… It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.’36 Kingdom-consciousness delivers us from false messianism (that our work, social action, mission and compassionate ministry will save society) and from false pessimism (that our work in this world has to be successful and ‘religious’ to be meaningful). Like all contemplatives, apocalyptic Christians will seem a little bit irrelevant to the worldlings around.

The Apocalypse of John and the contemplative life belong together. Revelation insists that being aware of God (the goal of contemplation) is indissolubly linked with the prayer ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (the burden of the Apocalypse). Final and full God-consciousness comes with kingdom-consciousness. To pray ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (22:20) is not a request to be evacuated from this life, but rather to pray imaginatively, to live the martyr metaphor, to worship while working in Babylon and to cultivate kingdom-consciousness until Christ introduces us to a better world by his second coming, whether that is sooner or later. The apocalyptic contemplative prays ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ and therefore lives in the light of heaven’s triumphant cry: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever’ (11:15). ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ is simultaneously the deepest prayer of both the apocalyptic Christian and the contemplative one.

1 J. Neville Ward, ‘Contemplation’, in Gordon S. Wakefield (ed.), The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1983), p. 95.

2 Evelyn Toft, ‘Some Contexts for the Ascetical Language of John of the Cross’, Mystics Quarterly Vol. 17 No. 1 (March 1991), pp. 28–29.

3 David Hellholm, ‘The Problem of Apocalyptic Genre and the Apocalypse of John’, Semeia 36 (1986), pp. 36–64; David Aune, ‘The Apocalypse of John and the Problem of Genre’, Semeia 36 (1986), pp. 65–96.

4 John J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to the Jewish Matrix of Christianity (New York: Crossroad, 1987), p. 4.

5 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), p. 239.

6 Martin Kiddle, The Revelation of St John (The Moffatt New Testament Commentary, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1940), p. 229.

7 Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 82.

8 Paul Barnett, ‘Revelation in its Roman Setting’, Reformed Theological Review Vol. 50 No. 2 (May–August 1991), pp. 59–62.

9 H.H. Rowley, The Relevance of Apocalyptic: A Study of Jewish and Christian Apocalypses from Daniel to the Revelation (Greenwood, S.C.: Attic Press, 1980), p. 170.

10 James Moffatt, ‘The Revelation of St John the Divine’, Vol. 5 of Expositors Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicholl (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), p. 295.

11 Harold Fickett, ‘A Conversation with Poet/Novelist Robert Siegel’, Christianity Today (21 November 1980), p. 37.

12 David Barr, ‘The Apocalypse of John as Oral Enactment’, Interpretation 40 No. 3 (July 1986), pp. 243–246.

13 John Swete, Revelation (New Testament Commentaries, Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990), p. 17.

14 P. Seenger, ‘Silent Reading: Its Impact on Late Medieval Script and Society’, Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 13 (1982), p. 371.

15 Mounce, op. cit., p. 24.

16 Eugene H. Peterson, ‘The Apocalyptic Pastor’, The Reformed Journal 38 No. 2 (May 1988), p. 17.

17 Ward, op. cit., p. 96.

18 Stephen Hre Kio, ‘The Exodus Symbol of Liberation in the Apocalypse and its Relevance for some Aspects of Translation’, Bible Translator 40 (January 1989), pp. 120–135.

19 Eugene M. Boring, ‘The Theology of Revelation: The Lord Our God the Almighty Reigns’, Interpretation 40 No. 3 (July 1986), p. 257.

20 Ibid., p. 260.

21 Cheryl Forbes, Imagination: Embracing a Theology of Wonder (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1986), p. 46.

22 S.S. Fiorenza, Invitation to the Book of Revelation (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1981), p. 18.

23 Moffatt, op. cit., p. 301.

24 Eugene H. Peterson, Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), p. 111.

25 John Baggley, Doors of Perception: Icons and their Spiritual Significance (Crestwood, N.Y.: Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1988), p. 52.

26 Swete, op. cit., p. 40.

27 James E. Rosscup, ‘The Overcomer of the Apocalypse’, Grace Theological Journal 3 No. 2 (1982), pp. 261–286.

28 Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1983), p. 23.

29 Peterson, Reversed Thunder, p. 112.

30 David Peterson, ‘Worship in the Revelation of John’, Reformed Theological Review 47 (September–December 1988), p. 75.

31 Barnett, op. cit., pp. 63–68; Paul Barnett, ‘Polemical Parallelism: Some Further Reflections on the Apocalypse’, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 35 (1989), p. 112.

32 Barnett, ‘Revelation in its Roman Setting’, p. 61.

33 Peterson, op. cit., p. 60.

34 Lesslie Newbigin, Honest Religion for Secular Man (London: SCM Press, 1969), p. 46.

35 Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus Rediscovered (London: Collins, 1969), pp. 17–18.

36 C.S. Lewis, Christian Behaviour (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1943), p. 51.

R. Paul Stevens

Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Applied Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.